Running is a sport like no other. You do it entirely on your own. Yes, at big races there will be a cheering squad at the side of the course and there will be people surrounding you on all sides going in the same direction, but you are doing the work. Your feet are hitting the ground. Your legs are propelling you forward. There is just you, your level of dedication, and your motivation. Doing things on your own would make for an easy practice schedule, right? Not quite. It’s very hard to keep yourself going and to keep improving. Here are a few easy tricks to make sure you’re getting in your distance whether you’re training for a long race or just working on beating a personal goal.
- Run around things.
Every so often on a sidewalk, you see a courtyard outside of a building; run on the inner edge of that. When you’re in a park, instead of going past it the pond or playground, do a loop around it first. A lot of cities will have running trails along bodies of water and those esplanades tend to have gardens or stretches of benches, run around those too. Adding these little distances can add up to miles in the long run. These little loops won’t take you off your trail but they will increase your distance.
- Stay on the outside.
Remember when you had to run the mile around the high school track and you always tried to get on the inside so it was shorter. That trick never worked and you shouldn’t keep trying it now if you’re a serious athlete. Keeping to the outside of a trail is another easy way to get a few more feet added to your total distance. In cities, it makes a run a lot easier when you stay to the street side of the sidewalk because when people are in your way you can pop out into the bike lane, after checking for bikes of course, so you don’t have to stop.
- Run errands.
People say this casually all the time, “I’m about to run some errands”, but the majority of people are really walking/driving to do their errands. You should actually run to them. It’s way quicker and it gets more done. Think about it; you can mail your bills, drop off your dry cleaning, go pick up a prescription, and you’ll have your work out done. No I’m not expecting anyone to run with huge boxes but if it’s small enough to fit in the pocket of work out pants or into an armband with your phone, you might as well kill two birds with one stone.
- Take the stairs.
Not only is this good for runners, but good for all people to get in some extra cardio. For runners, doing stairs is great training for hills. It will also add to your daily mileage because walking back and forth up a winding staircase covers more ground than going straight up somewhere in an elevator. If you’re keeping track of your stats via app or Fitbit, the stairs are an easy trick for reaching a higher step goal.
- Keep going.
Running, especially when you’re trying to increase your endurance to go longer distances, can be very daunting. When you’re almost finished with your route, pass your house and go for another block if you’re not feeling too worn out. Don’t start a run thinking you’ll do a whole extra mile and it will be easy; it won’t be. But when you push yourself a little more each week, tacking on that extra mile will happen a bit slower but in a much smoother way. Slow and steady wins the race after all.
There is no one to tap you out or pass to when you feel like you can’t make it. Distance running isn’t as easy as runners make it look. It takes a lot of time the more interested into it you get and making sure you’re increasing your mileage is key. Making one more loop around the pond is a lot more manageable to think about than telling yourself you will run an extra mile before turning around. Use these easy tricks to keep yourself on track and you’ll be on your way to getting a marathon medal in no time.
Author’s Note: I’m 6 months away from running the NYC marathon! I will be running with the Miles for Miracles team in support of Boston Children’s Hospital. That hospital saved my little brother’s life when he was a toddler and I am forever indebted to them. As a member of their race team, I pledged to raise $3000 dollars but I can only do that with YOUR HELP! Check out my fundraising page, share it, donate to it, and read more about why this charity is so meaningful to myself and all families who pass through it’s graces. Thank you!
Feature Image via Unsplash